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My Reaction to the Hard Truth Blog

August 9, 2009

To keep going on this whole thing, a pastor has a blog called “The Hard Truth” posted some things I found disturbing and, as I was there, not true. Once again, it demonstrates the complete lack of Grace shown by the Creation museum. Some people would ask, “Why I’m I doing this to fellow Christians?” Because, as pastor, I have an obligation to call out misleading information which I know to be false. Moreover, I’m tired of my work being made harder by these folks.

So, first up, the Hard Truth Blog.

“What a day! I have to admit when I pulled into the parking lot I was a little intimidated when I saw the size of the mob.”

Yeah, well, I was in the middle of that “mob”. They weren’t a mob. Everyone was very nice and I had quite a few conversations while I waited in line. Maybe if you hung with atheists on a regular basis, you wouldn’t be so nervous for a “hit and run” handshake.

“PZ responded with, “Oh, we will.” He was definitely sarcastic in his tone, but I really didn’t have a problem with that.”

Actually, as I was there, I didn’t think he was saracastic at all. God knows PZ makes me angry quite a few times, but let’s let him make us angry for the right reasons rather than percieved ones, shall we?

“They seemed to be people who were atheists because they needed a group to fit into. Most of them, not all, but most looked like mis-fits. Of course this doesn’t mean they are, but it was definitely the look they were going for. I know it’s going to bother some of you that I said that, but understand, I’m just trying to describe what I saw, and many of them just looked like people who would have a hard time fitting in with the real world. I know many of you will say I’m judgmental, but when people dress like goths or have black hair with yellow rings, you can’t tell me they don’t do that to get a reaction.”

This is the comment that made me wonder if I would have to start eating all oatmeal again. I see, so, since they didn’t look like white anglo saxon kids with well groomed hair, its must have lead them to being atheists.

I hang out with some of those kids all the time. They always dress like that. I don’t agree with their atheism, but I can tell you that most of them are trying to think things through. Do they have conflicting reasons for being atheists and unthought out positions? Of course. But, so do Christians.

Their dress has nothing to do with it, nor that they “can’t make it in the real world”. This kind of attitude is horrible and condescending, not to mention COMPLETELY contrary to the Gospel of Christ.

Maybe if we had put stud collars on the guard dogs….

Take issue with their ideas. I do. Discuss. Argue. Reason. Live with them. But don’t resort to this name calling, implied condescending tone that makes us all look stupid.

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42 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 12:00 am

    Thanks for writing this. I have talked about the dishonesty and lies some Christians display to some of my Christian friends and when I asked why I rarely see other Christians speaking out against them some indicated they believe they should not publicly call out other Christians. It was nice to see someone actually doing this here.

  2. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 12:12 am

    Travis,
    Normally, I would agree with that except for the fact that these untruths, shall we say, are done in the public forum. When they are done in the public forum, they are free game for correction, rebuke and refutation. Matthew 18 no longer applies.

  3. August 10, 2009 3:09 am

    It is unfortunate that I have a desire to let you know that I appreciate your honesty. I myself was especially disturbed at Estes suggesting that “they seemed to be people who were atheists because they needed a group to fit into.” Going further and calling them “mis-fits” displayed exactly the kind of intolerance that atheists are so fond of putting on Christians. It is almost as if Estes wanted to play right into the stereotype that I imagine many in the SSA have of evangelicals. That kind of behavior makes it that much more difficult for genuine dialogue to occur, not just now, but later on as well as those kids will hold onto that memory of Estes’ actions.

  4. gingerbeard permalink
    August 10, 2009 4:43 am

    I am very grateful to have found my way to your blog, having suffered though the Hard Truth. All I could think in reading his format is he is fond of Bill O, and other blow hards, and patterned his blog to follow their style.

    I look forward to reading your blog, and not revisiting Hard Truth.

  5. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:18 pm

    Gingerbread,
    Thanks very much! I really appreciate it!

    J-

  6. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:22 pm

    Jim,
    I completely agree. As I said, I try not to get into a war of words with other believers, but when stupid stuff like that happens, I can’t help it.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    J-

  7. Richard Eis permalink
    August 10, 2009 1:25 pm

    I honestly that “hard truth” was a joke at first. It’s currently my “naughty addiction” seeing the weird side of christianity. I was going to put my comment in the previous post but hardtruth has it as well…what is it?

    Fear. Or so it seems to me. I’m not from america so i don’t always get the mentality. What do you think?

  8. August 10, 2009 1:40 pm

    Thanks for this. It was instances and comments like those made the guy in your post that nearly caused me to lose my faith. It is incredibly arrogant, sinful, ungracious, and not the attitude of Jesus. Too often we attribute such attitudes to cultural preferences or admirable defense of the faith, when in reality, it is sin. Christians who pointed that out to me allowed me to see the real God, there is nothing wrong with your critiques.

  9. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:41 pm

    I think the mindset is certainly an American phenom. There is a whole, long explanation as to why this is the case, but basically, it started 150 years ago with the Second Great Awakening. Christians left their fantastic tradition of thought, reason, and artistic achievement for moralism, religious experience and a refusal to engage the world around them. And that has lead to where we are now. It’s sad and it makes me want to pull my hair out.

  10. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:44 pm

    Thanks! and welcome to The Thomas Society! I couldn’t agree more.

  11. August 10, 2009 5:27 pm

    Something I notice reading Hard Truth and a number of his ideological fellow travellers, such as Andrew Schlafly over at Conservapedia or Ken Ham himself, is an overwhelming sense of entitlement. They expect to be treated as authorities, solely because they say they are. Tom in his environment as a Baptist pastor probably sees little dissent among his flock, and in his writing it becomes clear he sees that as not only his due, but the natural way of things. The Atheist Enemy is outside of that, and may be dismissed with nary a thought.

    That you apparently come from inside his identified group and yet dare to question the positions he takes seems unacceptable. After all, he is owed the respect of his peers simply for being who he is, and should you disrespect (by disagreeing with) part of his group in the person of Ken Ham, then you disrespect him, personally, and thus cannot possibly be what you say you are, a member of his own tribe.

    I expect something along those lines is where some of his vitriol towards you comes from.

  12. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 5:31 pm

    Hard to say, but I think there is some truth to it. Pastors (speaking as one) are very insecure. So, I’m willing to cut him some slack for that reason. What I have no patience for is complete unwillingess to admit weakness, hangups or problems. Or in my view, admit sin. It’s a scary thing for me.

  13. August 10, 2009 5:33 pm

    I think the mindset is certainly an American phenom. There is a whole, long explanation as to why this is the case, but basically, it started 150 years ago with the Second Great Awakening. Christians left their fantastic tradition of thought, reason, and artistic achievement for moralism, religious experience and a refusal to engage the world around them. And that has lead to where we are now. It’s sad and it makes me want to pull my hair out.

    What a remarkable thing to say. A current thread on Pharyngula shows atheists’ willingness to criticize each other quite harshly, and it’s really refreshing to see a Christian forum doing likewise. Many (although certainly not all) atheists respond so aggressively to Christians more for the way Christian ideology attacks science and attempts to condemn non-Christian lifestyles. But most of us see that clash as an inevitable consequence of Christian ideology — but apparently you don’t? I’d like to know more about your views and so I’ll bookmark this blog so I can visit again and enjoy more of your interesting posts.

    A question: regarding the “…for moralism, religious experience” part of your earlier comment… if you remove this, what of value is left over in Christian life? There’s a rich cultural and historical tradition there, certainly. But one doesn’t have to be a Christian to appreciate and enjoy learning about that. I’m not trying to challenge you, I’m just sincerely curious about it.

  14. August 10, 2009 5:39 pm

    This is from the same “Jim” as above.

  15. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 5:53 pm

    Ben,
    Thanks for the comments. You are right on about how Christians attack science and nonchristian ideology. I keep telling Christians they shouldn’t expect people to act like Christians who are not Christians. It’s absurd for so many reasons.

    I think there used to be an enviorment where CHristians could critique each other, but it doesnt happen much anymore. Again, see my comments about the Second Great Awakening.

    And, your last question is excellant. And as this is the Thomas Society (the patron saint of doubt) feel free to challenge and question any time you want. I’m guessing there will be things on this blog in the future you won’t agree with. But, in short, Christianity has and always be about God giving grace to sinners. That’s the whole story of the Bible and the story Christians confess. Moralism is an affront to God, as it says you can be good enough. Christianity says, you aren’t good enough, never will be, but God came down in the form of a human being to make us good enough. Being moral or good, is a benefit that flows from that, not the central tenet of it. Does that make sense? If not, ask me to clarify. Im a bit punchy after a long weekend. 🙂

  16. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 5:54 pm

    Jim,
    Welcome! Thanks for the link and stopping by. I really appreciate it!

  17. August 10, 2009 6:16 pm

    I’m curious about the statement about not getting into a war of words with other believers.

    There are many good reasons not to get into a war of words with people in general… but why do you see it as desirable or virtuous to make the distinction between believers and non-believers? Are fellow believers less deserving of correction or confrontation when wrong or when you perceive them to be wrong simply because they are on “your side?”

    If anything, wouldn’t that kind of discussion be BETTER internally, more effective, more well-received because if the familial feeling, more a form of communal self-policing, healthy internal debate?

    I’m not trying to be confrontational and I’m not necessarily saying that you DO see it as a matter of sides (though it really seems to read that way), I’m just asking because your use of the phrase struck me as odd, stood out.

  18. echidna permalink
    August 10, 2009 11:43 pm

    Just reflecting that these kids, who, on the Hard Truth blog, have been judged as misfits by the way they dress, are actually those kids are academically successful, and are likely to be financially successful. Given they are atheists, maybe they don’t value conformity – but calling them “misfits” betrays a anti-intellectual attitude combined with a nastiness that doesn’t promote Christianity as something that is desirable at all.

  19. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 2:52 am

    Well said Echinda. Well said. And welcome!

  20. Enkidu permalink
    August 11, 2009 2:57 am

    As an atheist, I can clue you in to a few mistakes Christians make when talking to us.

    1) Don’t quote the Bible as evidence of anything. If we believed the
    Bible was true, we’d already be Christians. The Bible isn’t “Evidence
    of the Truth,” it needs evidence that it is true.

    2) Don’t count on threats of hell. And let’s face it: Telling us that’s
    where we’ll end up if we don’t believe is a threat. It’s a pointless
    threat, just as the fate the Koran decrees for Christians does not
    frighten you into becoming Muslim. And don’t try to bribe us with
    a reward in heaven either. Since we don’t believe the Bible is
    accurate, we don’t believe in it’s promised rewards any more than
    you believe in the seventy-two virgins of Islam or the Norse Valhalla.

    3) If you truly believe God exists and only faith in Jesus can save
    you from eternal torment, I’m fine with that. But don’t expect me
    to believe it unless you can demonstrate the truth of your proposition
    the same way you’d demonstrate the truth of any other: Put up some
    evidence. (Remember, the Bible doesn’t count unless you first
    demonstrate it is true.)

    Believe whatever gets you through the day, and let me do the same.

  21. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 3:05 am

    Enkidu,
    Thanks for stopping by. I actually hang with atheists on a regular basis, and thus, my speaking at the Secular Student Alliance blog. So, I understand all of your above objections. But, thanks for sharing them.

    Doubtfully,
    J-

  22. August 11, 2009 4:27 am

    I’d actually say there’s an anti-expression attitude in general in that post, and the comments agreeing with it. There’s no room for free expression in how you look, how you believe, how you think, or any other, in the worlds of ideologues such as Tom Estes.

    He seems to have chosen…is your name Jonathan? I can’t tell from the info here, and I don’t think you’re actually St. Thomas. In any case, you’ve been chosen as his new arch-enemy it seems, pushing PZ out of top spot. I expect this to pass with barely any notice, again same as in PZ’s case.

  23. Jud permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:16 am

    Hmm: “[T]hey shouldn’t expect people to act like Christians who are not Christians.”

    Careful with that – seems to me it risks setting up people as models of moral behavior (in their own minds as well as others’) simply because they call themselves Christians, and just as bad, gets into the whole “Can atheists be moral?” issue, which I consider a canard. Where our moral sense comes from is open to honest debate, but to say that anyone who questions the existence of divinity cannot act rightly in the world is IMHO absurd.

  24. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 12:14 pm

    Jud,
    I probably should have said that Christians shouldn’t expect people to act like they love Jesus when they don’t. Or something like that. Thanks for the corrective.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. Most atheists I know are more moral than some Christians I know. But, as you said, the why of that is a bit hazy. Good thoughts.

    Doubtfully,
    J-

  25. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 12:38 pm

    Kelseigh,
    Yes, my name is Jonathan. Thanks for letting me know about Tom. I posted that I would meet him for coffee any time he wanted. Otherwise, I’m not going to get into any pissing battles with him. I have got other things to do, such as managing my own blog! 🙂 I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of making it on my blog, but I’m glad he put me on his!

    Doubtfully,
    J-

  26. Enkidu permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:12 pm

    Your point: “I think you have hit the nail on the head. Most atheists I know are more moral than some Christians I know.”

    I expect that’s because nearly all atheists have come to their position through long, often painful, and careful consideration. We started with religion and the comfort it gives. We found we couldn’t maintain beliefs that contradicted the evidence we saw around us. Many faced ostracism by family and friends, just as gays do when they “come out.”

    Contrast that to most Christians, who are Christian because their parents are, have never given serious consideration to what they believe or why, and have never delved into the implications of their beliefs.

    *YOU* may spend hours thinking, researching, listening to other views, but that is not the typical Christian, the one who goes to church most Sundays and believes most of what he’s told there.

  27. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 6:11 pm

    Take heart, Enkidu, there are more Christians like me than you think.

  28. August 11, 2009 11:40 pm

    I won’t go so far as to say that your explanation “makes sense”, but only because the premise of salvation you’re describing is neither intuitively nor rationally consonant with my understanding or experience of the world. And so it doesn’t, literally, make sense to me.

    But I will say that I do understand what you’re getting at, and that I appreciate the integrity and dignity of your position. And I recognize the fact that your Christianity is very different from the sort I’ve come to dislike: you strip away the manipulative gameplay; by which I mean the three-way bargaining between religious authorities (salesman), the congregation (customers), and God (the goods for sale). I’ve always found the idea of a self-proclaimed intermediary arbitrating the conditions for salvation extremely repulsive.

    And I’m glad to hear you say that “moralism is an affront to God”. In all honesty, that’s a concept I’ve always admired, and reading you make that statement brings to mind how far detached it is from the sort of Christianity one regularly encounters. You say this Second Great Awakening is a breaking point, and I’m going to make an effort to learn more about it.

    But it’s still very difficult for me to understand the distinction between non-moralistic and moralistic ideas of salvation. I’m confused as to how one can consider the acceptance of original sin and belief in personal salvation themselves to be distinct from worldly morality. Aren’t the foundations of that belief a combination of 1) Love of God, which necessitates the sort “religious experience” that you’ve said you don’t appreciate (even ‘conviction’ can only be meaningful if one is genuinely moved, in an experiential way, by a religious practice or experience – or do you see it differently? …or 2) Fear of God, which seems like the sort of equation between punishment and reward that I’m sure you wouldn’t have a very high regard for.

    And, looking at it the other way, there’s quite a lot of moralizing in my atheism: one reason I find atheism satisfying is that it doesn’t demand one to actively engage in a scenario in which my salvation includes the acceptance of others’ (the vast majority of humanity’s!) amoral condemnation. While I understand your position that “no one is good enough”, I have a hard time believing in a God that encourages people to be morally worse-than-necessary!

    I’m quite certain that the points I’ve expressed are largely misconceptions about your beliefs and I hope you’ll correct me. I’m not very knowledgeable about Christian apologetics at more than the most superficial level, but I’m interested in understanding more. And: my apologies for writing a comment that really asks for an unfair amount of time for you to answer – as I said, I’ll be reading your blog regularly and won’t take it amiss if, instead of answering me directly here you make a post about “Common Misunderstanding of Christian belief” at some point in the future. I’m sure that many people would be as interested as I am.

    Best wishes!

    Ben

  29. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 11:55 pm

    Ben,
    Those are all great questions. I think they will be best answered in a number of different posts, if you don’t mind. They all center around the purpose of this blog. So, not to put you off, but keep reading. I hope to answer all of those in turn.

    I’m thinking through a number of different things for this blog. Believe it or not, it didn’t really exist last week. I mean, it was here, but I didn’t use it much. It’s supposed to be the website for my student group at The Ohio State University. It will still be used for that, but I’m thinking some things through of daily posts, such as Theological Thursday and of course, everyone’s favorite, the Atties, which will be award every Monday to either Christian or atheist that does something to inhibit reasonable conversation.

    Doubtfully,
    J-

  30. August 12, 2009 8:39 pm

    “Careful with that – seems to me it risks setting up people as models of moral behavior (in their own minds as well as others’) simply because they call themselves Christians, and just as bad, gets into the whole “Can atheists be moral?” issue, which I consider a canard.”

    That brings up an interesting point. I’ve said before in arguments that I don’t believe that God or whatever other deity you care to name “created” morals, and therefore has a monopoly on them. What I believe is that Christianity (or whatever religion you fill in the blank with) came along and adopted what morals were considered good and right in their society, or in the evergreen memory of the church elders at least (think how modern church leaders harken back to a “good old days” that never existed). The church didn’t invent the morality, it was already there, and present even in the nonbelievers.

    I think it’s commendable when Christians emulate the fairly good set of character traits in the legendary Jesus, but those character traits appear outside of Christianity itself, leading non-Christians to “act like Christ” without even intending to.

    Nothing terribly profound, just felt the need to ramble about that since I think it’s interesting.

  31. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 12, 2009 9:33 pm

    Yeah, my feelings will be layed in out a post sometime in the near future.

  32. MWB permalink
    August 14, 2009 7:35 pm

    OMG !

    I finally found a Christian site with intelligent people posting !

    Ahoy pastor Tom !
    I did not think that such a site could exist , there must be a great deal of ” Christians ” that would like to see your head on the end of a pike .
    I am curious , the majority of posts i read on the internet from ” Christians ” are vile and full of hatred , bigotry , violent threats and every other sinful utterance under the sun (son) .

    These comments are generally aimed at sites that are deemed hostile to Christianity , I imagine you are aware of the sites that I refer to , and there are many more that I can direct you to if you wish , but a google search would do the job just nicely .

    Tell me , what are your thoughts on this ?
    It appears to me that a great deal of young people are making a mockery of God , Christ and all things Holy by their fervor in defending their beliefs with Satan’s help .

    Forgive me if I don’t find my way back here promptly , I’m getting fogg7y in my old age and have been surfing all over the place today and I could easily forget that I posted in here .

    Kind regards and bless ya !

  33. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 14, 2009 8:03 pm

    Greetings MWB,

    I hope you have the right site and not confused me with “Pastor” Tom’s blog at Hard Truth. My guess is if this is the case, you may not like what you see here.

    If you have the right site, then welcome, glad you are here.

    Pax Jesu,
    J-

  34. MWB permalink
    August 15, 2009 6:20 am

    Thank you for the welcome !
    I am certain I am in the site I was looking for .
    Place forgive the vulgarity of my previous post , after a bit of sleep I realize how juvenile it sounds .
    I am eager to lurk through your site .
    Unbiased , forward thinking Christian sites seem rather scarce .
    It’s about time religions toss off the remnants of the Dark Ages .

  35. September 23, 2009 10:47 am

    Anybody taken a look at T.Estes website lately? Looks like he has completely gotten rid of comments entirely, not allowed on blog entries and there no longer appears to be any forums, segregated or otherwise.

  36. September 23, 2009 12:52 pm

    My bad – the forums are still there, apparently. The apparent disappearance was simply the result of a redesign of the website. Only a matter of time, though, I’m sure.

  37. Richard Eis permalink
    September 24, 2009 8:04 am

    He keeps re-arranging things. In a “move something about then move it back again, then tweak some colours” kind of way. I am still playing there. It’s not improved on the fundy side really.

    I am experimenting and seeing if we can get them to understand actual Evolution (not the crocoduck version) but unfortunately it’s not going well. They seem to like the crocoduck version and aren’t happy that the real Evolution doesn’t explain the big bang, defy the laws of physics or make something out of nothing.

  38. September 24, 2009 6:39 pm

    I’ve been following your valiant efforts – you have more patience than I.

    In my defense:

    1) When I checked the blog and didn’t see the forum links, it seemed like a natural progression of the fundie cycle – open invitation to bask in his intellectual brilliance, complain the atheists are being “mean” by easily refuting his arguments, require registration to comment, begin kicking people off who don’t “respect” his authoritay; close off commenting on blog posts and segregate all comments to further segregated atheist/christian forums . . . completely close the site to any dissenting views.”

    2) The good pastor is a git.

  39. Matheus permalink
    September 26, 2009 12:47 am

    @Richard Eis

    You still haven’t given up? O-O
    You don’t see such faith in humanity nowdays 🙂
    I still stand by my assertion that he is in it for the attention, and any attempt to explain anything to him is futile.

  40. October 20, 2009 12:37 am

    Apparently, my last stage laid out in #1 above should have been just “completely close the site.” The good pastor has announced he has just gotten oh so bored with his vanity project – – and it wasn’t helping his vanity much anyway.

    Looks like the “Hard Truth” is headed for the dustbin of obscurity where it belongs. It will save me from myself – such a horrifically mesmerizing train wreck it was, so hard to take the high road and look away.

Trackbacks

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